Yesterday I had the opportunity to explore an area of the city I have never been. It was an area I would normally avoid, but I didn’t find the run-down city streets I expected. Instead I found a very cute little area and realized I unjustly condemned this part of the city.
I often comment on how people generally do not visit the “tourist” spots of their city because they live there. Perhaps we mean to go to these popular sites but we put it off thinking there will be time. Besides, the grass is always greener somewhere else, right? Why go somewhere locally when dreaming of a trip abroad?
The idea that we do not visit our own city and the revelation about finding a hidden gem go together. We tend to stay in our own back yard without venturing far away from the familiar. In our daily lives, we are just too busy to take the time to go off our beaten path.
I was reminded of this again today when I was rushing home from the grocery store. I didn’t necessarily have to be home quickly, but it was so hot I could almost hear my food melting even in the insulated bag. On my way home I was forced off my well-traveled route because of road closure. No directions were given on how to avoid this street so I was left to fend for myself in an unfamiliar area.
The streets I found myself on were ordinary streets similar to the one I originally would have driven. I wasn’t struck with the wonder of finding a cute new street. My revelation was that I was completely unfamiliar with the streets I was driving and where they go, but they are just off my normal route. I had no idea how to maneuver the roads to get to where I needed.
Shouldn’t we take the time to get to know where we live?
Previously, I wrote about the freedom of traveling without a destination. I spoke about it in my post titled, “Weekend Road Trip Part Two.” What is stopping us from driving without destination any day? You don’t need to plan a weekend road trip to explore. You can explore your own back yard.
Be a tourist in your own city!
There are benefits to taking the time to venture your neighborhoods. Obviously, you get to experience the freedom of the open road, even if it is just for an hour. You get to feel the excitement of going somewhere new, seeing different areas, and driving without destination.
Another benefit to learning your city is you can vary your route. It is a practice many tout to help you stay safe. Also, if your route is blocked, as mine was, you won’t feel anxiety over finding an alternate route. You will already know where to go and get to your destination safely.
Finally, it gives you practice at being lost. It seems odd to think you need to practice being lost, but it could come in handy when you are on your next trip. Mom and I always got lost at least once on our travels, even with a clearly mapped route. I got used to being lost and so now, I don’t mind it. I know eventually I will find my way to somewhere familiar.
I challenged you to spend a weekend driving without a plan in Weekend Road Trip Part Two. Now, I challenge you to explore your city. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you find.
Share what you learned from your explorations by leaving a comment. Maybe you will learn about your city or yourself. Happy exploring!